Walker Payne Matt Williams

Walker Payne Matt Williams
Bogged down by unconvincing characterizations, irrational behaviour and the collective weight of external evils that threaten the sanctity of charming small town life, Walker Payne preaches its sermon of cruelty for a deluded greater good without sincerity or truth. Patric, Strickland and Shepard are all fantastic in their roles, making lemonade with manure, but are unable to pull this manipulative dog-fighting drama out of the television movie dregs it inadvertently clings to. Given that writer/director Matt Williams comes from the world of Roseanne and Home Improvement, it is unsurprising that Payne has an incontrovertible small-screen vibe. Following mass lay-offs at the local quarry, Walker (Jason Patric) is strapped for cash and unable to make his child support payments to his cartoon villain gorgon of an ex-wife (Drea de Matteo). Unsurprisingly, she won’t let Walker see his two beloved daughters until she either gets 5,000 dollars to leave town for nursing school or he stops diddling every doe-eyed bint in dodge and returns home to suckle on her frozen teat. Preferring the company of his loyal pup Brute to his nasty ex, Walker searches desperately for ways to quickly make cash while taking up residence with Audrey (KaDee Strickland), the new bank teller. Inevitably, an out-of-towner named Syrus (Sam Shepard) shows up with a Faustian bargain that leaves Walker’s lovable dog Brute in a dog-fighting pen and Walker suffering a moral crisis. While the notion of dog-fighting is particularly vile and used in such an incredibly exploitative way in the narrative, the actual sequences were filmed maturely, utilizing blurring techniques and sound effects to create an overall feeling, unlike the graphic way the "sport” was depicted in Amores Perros. It’s all deliberately dreary and constructed specifically to make the audience sad, regardless of natural character trajectory or logical human behaviour. Somewhere around the time that Audrey tries to convince Walker that dog-fighting is similar to the spousal abuse she endured in the past it becomes clear that Walker Payne is interested only in adhering to filmmaking formulas. The DVD includes an audio commentary with writer/director Williams and producer Judd Payne. It’s a very slow and seemingly rehearsed commentary with points repeated endlessly by Matt Williams, who equates coal mining with dog fighting. Indeed. (Seville)